NACAC 2017: A Recap

Make no mistake: diversity and inclusion were the most-discussed topics at NACAC 2017 in Boston. The opening keynote, helmed by Dr. Shaun Harper of the University of Southern California, burned four words into my mind: “This, too, is racism.” His speech, before thousands of professionals, gave me chills as he spilled truth after truth. Inside Higher Ed wrote an excellent recap. I am unable to match his words and the passion with which he spoke them, but I’d like to highlight two concepts he touched upon:

  1. He explained how students of color are routinely underserved by the people who should be looking out for them in their high schools. Dr. Harper spoke of undermatching and how minority students are routinely discouraged by authority figures from applying to top colleges or universities.
  2. Harper challenged admission offices to become more inclusive in their hiring and to be reflective of prospective students.

If you’d like to follow Dr. Harper on Twitter, I recommend it.

Other sessions at the conference focused very much on how institutions can permanently enshrine a commitment to diversity within their campus climate. An emphasis was made on needing to build strategic plans. Senior leaders challenged their peers to take on diversity and inclusion as one of their personal burdens to bear – to use the privilege they may have in society to assist people who enjoy less privilege.

One senior leader noted that this approach has resulted in tangible results for her university’s Muslim students: hosting relevant programs during Ramadan, installing reflection rooms for prayer, and training student tour guides to be culturally fluent.

In terms that may seem stark, it was also pointed out that diversity and inclusion make good business sense. Enrollment growth and retention can follow a smart strategic plan.

David Burge, who took over as president of NACAC at the conference, immediately used his position to stand up for what’s right. Here is a short blurb from a NACAC press release:

In his first speech as NACAC’s top elected leader, Burge challenged his colleagues to promote opportunity for all individuals. He also applauded the association’s recent advocacy work, including efforts made on behalf of undocumented students.”

“We oppose ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the strongest possible terms,” Burge said, earning roaring applause from attendees at NACAC’s Annual Membership Meeting. “We will be champions for these students, supporting legislation and appropriate legal action at every turn.”

Next year’s conference will take place in Salt Lake City.

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Ryan Collins is an admission counselor at Baldwin Wallace University.

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DACA and Higher Education

It’s official: President Trump plans to end the DACA program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA protected over 800,000 young people from deportation who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

DACA isn’t going away overnight. President Trump gave Congress a six-month deadline to pass related legislation before the program is phased out. In a tweet this week, he noted he would “revisit this issue” if necessary.

Many people who DACA impacted are or were college students in the United States, and the world of higher education has played close attention to the issue. Many institutions in Ohio, both public and private, took a stand to support these undocumented students after President Trump’s announcement.

The news was met with condemnation from NACAC. Former president Barack Obama, who created DACA, also condemned the action.

Inside Higher Ed has written an excellent, in-depth article explaining the recent news.

 

By: Ryan Collins

Admission Counselor

Baldwin Wallace University

FAQ Sheet: Financial Aid and Undocumented Students

Have questions about how financial aid and eligibility for undocumented or DACA students? The U.S. Department of Education has drafted a very informative and concise document that answers many frequently asked questions regarding general information about these students, eligibility for financial aid, and how to complete the FAFSA: financial-aid-and-undocumented-students.

Financial aid can be a vexing process for students of all backgrounds and to best serve all populations, admissions officers should ensure that they know the appropriate resources for their students. Please be aware of your institution’s policies regarding undocumented, Dreamers, and DACA students even if you do not consistently work closely with these populations. For some additional insight into the different immigration terms and categories, we have an informal guide that may assist you with discerning the different populations you may interact with: https://oacacinclusion.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/immigration-insight/.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); Opportunity to the Unauthorized Immigrant

It was in 1994 that I immigrated to “El Norte” (The North).

This is what many Latin American individuals call this great land of opportunity. The choice was not made by me, the choice was made by my father that saw an opportunity for growth. Coming to a strange land meant leaving my identity (home). Oftentimes, people leave their children, your life as a farmer, and the most fearful part about this migration is that you have no idea what lays ahead. I remember running and crawling through fields of Arizona and swimming rivers of Guatemala and Mexico. Running at night and sleeping by day.

According to the Boston Globe more than 6,000 people have died trying to cross the Mexico-United States border since 1998. Young children, women, and young men have died trying to cross the border. At times women and children are involved in rape and human trafficking, as well as mules for drugs, but that’s another story. However, there are many that have made it to begin a new life in the U.S.A. As the years pass, many individuals like myself live in shadows and not  exposed to a normal life in the United States because they are afraid of deportation.

According to PEW Research Center about 65,000 Unauthorized children graduate from high schools all over the United States. Some of these students do not know that they are Undocumented or Unauthorized individuals in the States, until a parent decides to share that information with them. Now a young child full of deception, anger, and not connected, it is very hard to understand the concept of immigrant. It is heartbreaking for them, at one point thinking that college was an option, now it is a struggle to achieve or an impossible dream to catch. Hence, where the DREAMERS notion comes to be talked about.

With all that has been said, there are so many students that are wanting to go onto a university or college to make a better living, to get a better education, or to experience the whole “college experience” that their peers talk about. Education currently serves to them a gateway to be a better person that can contribute to society. Eleanor Roosevelt said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. Students had no choice. According to their parents, they had to be here. How can these students be an individual of DREAMERS if we keep closing the doors for them. So what does it mean to be Unauthorized?  

Typically, a person has  “no papers”. That means that you do not have a social security number. Not having a social security number you have no way of working or being eligible for a driver’s license, nor can the student apply for federal student aid or FAFSA. The land of opportunities has now turn into a land of struggles. However, the U.S. Government and the Obama Administration has worked very hard to finally see some progress in the lines of Immigration Reform. Finally, for some, prayers were answered, On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal called The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To find out more on eligibility visit the Department of Homeland Security’s page (DHS) for additional information; eligibility, renewal of DACA, application, and what defines DACA.   

Going back to helping students continue their education, I believe that education is huge component of receiving DACA, as well as if an Official at DHS sees your education progress that’s a big part of looking great on the application. One major part that I always encourage students is number one, to apply for DACA (if you can be able to afford it) and number two is to look for 2 year community colleges that can receive admissions to those students who are DACA recipients or not. It is not that colleges do not want to admit students with situations as this, it’s that some states do not allow for students to apply for admissions being Unauthorized. Which then brings on the issue of applying for colleges. Nerdwallet has some great insights of how to go about applying for college and as a DACA student. By clicking here you can find out the steps on how to apply as a DACA or Unauthorized Immigrant student. Also, a great amount of work has been done from non-for profit organizations that can help with students that are DACA recipients or Unauthorized Immigrant Students that are looking to finance their college education.

An organization that is located in Palo Alto, CA helps students with finding schools that they have partnered with to help students seek opportunities to go to college. The mission of QuestBridge is a powerful platform bridging the nation’s brightest, under-served youth and leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities. We are an aggregator of excellence. QuestBridge provides a single, internet-based meeting point which links exceptional students with colleges, scholarship providers, enrichment programs, employers, and organizations seeking students who have excelled despite obstacles. By facilitating these exchanges, QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best universities and the ranks of national leadership itself.

Also, the best part of these colleges and universities is that they provide a great amount of institutional scholarships. If you would like to know which schools are part of the QuestBridge please visit: QuestBridge. It will provide much information on scholarships and as well as opportunities to even apply. This is a great opportunities for students to get engaged in and also it provides a gateway to help them understand that there is a way or a possibility that they can too go to college.

I hope that this has helped in making it more understanding of what Unauthorized individuals go through and as well as the struggles of what some of the brightest students go through in making a choice to go to school or not because policies put into place that hinder them from going to college.

Alex Bonilla, MBA
Multicultural Recruitment Coordinator
Defiance College
Abonilla@defiance.edu